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An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority. Citation is disfavored, but may be permitted in accordance with the provisions of Rule 30(e)(3) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure.

NO. COA07-210

NORTH CAROLINA COURT OF APPEALS

Filed: 7 August 2007

IN THE MATTERS OF:                    New Hanover County
                                Nos. 06 JT 38-39
K.S.E. and B.N.E.

    Appeal by respondent-mother from order entered 19 October 2006, nunc pro tunc 25 July 2006, by Judge Phyllis M. Gorham in New Hanover County District Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 11 June 2007.

    Smith, James, Rowlett & Cohen, L.L.P., by Margaret Rowlett, for guardian ad litem.

    
    Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton LLP, by K. Edward Greene and Adrienne E. Allison, for respondent-appellant.

    WYNN, Judge.
    
    
    This appeal arises from the trial court's order to terminate Respondent-mother's parental rights. Because the record shows that the trial court's findings of fact are supported by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence; the findings of fact support the conclusions of law; and the trial court properly determined that the termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the child, we affirm the order of termination.
    On 21 June 2001, New Hanover County Department of Social Services (DSS) filed a petition alleging that K.S.E. and B.N.E. were abused, neglected, and dependent juveniles. DSS claimed that the children were at risk of sexual abuse and had been exposed to “grossly inappropriate sexual conduct on the part of their motherand other relatives, including their siblings.” DSS recounted that Respondent-mother and the two juveniles had recently relocated from Cumberland County to live with Respondent-mother's mother and stepfather. DSS stated that the home in which Respondent-mother and the children lived was inappropriate in that the stepfather had pled guilty to a sexual offense against a mentally disabled adult, and the maternal grandmother suffered from bipolar disorder and did not understand the nature or extent of Respondent-mother's and the juveniles' problems.
    DSS further alleged that the children displayed significant behavioral and emotional problems, noting that K.S.E. had engaged in sexual activity with his cousin. Additionally, DSS stated that both children and a neighbor child had observed Respondent-mother “kissing, licking, and caressing pornographic materials.” DSS therefore asserted that Respondent-mother could not provide, and the children did not receive, proper care, supervision, or discipline. An order for non-secure custody was entered, and DSS assumed immediate custody of the children. On 18 October 2001, nunc pro tunc 24 August 2001, the children were adjudicated abused, neglected, and dependent juveniles.
    Since 21 June 2001, when DSS filed its initial petition and took custody of the children, K.S.E. and B.N.E. have been placed in foster homes, group homes, and hospitals, and given therapy to try and address their special needs, including diagnoses of post- traumatic stress disorder and mild retardation for both children. During that time, Respondent-mother was initially cooperative withDSS, completing a parenting skills course and attending a course for parenting hyperactive children, but she also had difficulty addressing her own mental health needs and was terminated from Dialectical Behavioral therapy due to non-attendance and inappropriate behavior in group sessions. Respondent-mother also entered one-on-one therapy with a psychologist, who diagnosed her with borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder.
    By May 2002, Respondent-mother had remarried and secured adequate housing for the children; nonetheless, her therapist requested more time prior to returning the children to Respondent- mother, to allow her to gain understanding of their needs and deal with her own mental health issues. Visitation continued, and included in-home therapeutic services for Respondent-mother such as modeling parenting skills while the children visited. However, B.N.E. had only four in-home visits with Respondent-mother before in-home therapy was terminated, and a fire then rendered the home uninhabitable for several months. According to the trial court's findings, Respondent-mother then became “secretive and inconsistent in representations about her employment, the stability of her marriage, [and] her compliance with therapy and medication.”
    The children's visitation with Respondent-mother was suspended in 2005, due to the children's need for a high level of care and their therapist's opinion that visitation would harm their progress. Respondent-mother had also ended her one-on-one therapy with the psychologist provided by DSS but claimed to be seeking treatment at a county mental health center. The trial court alsofound that Respondent-mother's marriage had disintegrated and that she and her husband were separated but had moved to South Carolina, where they were charged with arson and a false insurance claim in April 2006. According to the trial court, Respondent-mother conceded that she could not meet the needs of K.S.E. but sought reunification with B.N.E.
    On 31 January 2006, after over four years of failed efforts at reunification of Respondent-mother and the minor children, DSS filed a petition to terminate Respondent-mother's parental rights as to K.S.E. and B.N.E. DSS alleged three grounds for termination, under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111(a)(1), (2), and (6), respectively: (1) Respondent-mother had neglected the juveniles; (2) Respondent- mother had willfully left the juveniles in foster care for more than twelve months without showing reasonable progress; and (3) Respondent-mother is incapable of providing for the proper care and supervision of the children, such that they were dependent juveniles, with a reasonable probability that such incapability will continue for the foreseeable future. Following a hearing held on 24 and 25 July 2006, the trial court terminated Respondent- mother's parental rights.
    Respondent-mother now appeals, contending that the trial court erred by concluding that (I) the juveniles were neglected, willfully left in foster care for more than twelve months, and dependent because Respondent-mother is incapable of providing proper care and supervision; and (II) terminating Respondent- mother's rights was in the best interest of the children.

I.
    Respondent-mother challenges each of the three grounds found by the trial court in terminating her parental rights. We note at the outset that a court “may terminate the parental rights upon a finding of one or more” of the statutory grounds specified in the Juvenile Code. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111(a) (2005) (emphasis added); see also In re J.A.A., 175 N.C. App. 66, 74, 623 S.E.2d 45, 50 (2005) (“The trial court can terminate a respondent's parental rights upon the finding of one of the grounds enumerated in N.C. Gen.Stat. § 7B-1111(a).”); In re Pierce, 67 N.C. App. 257, 261, 312 S.E.2d 900, 903 (1984) (“A finding of any one of the . . . separately enumerated grounds is sufficient to support a termination.”). Because we find that the juveniles were dependent, we conclude that the trial court had sufficient grounds to terminate Respondent-mother's parental rights.
    A “dependent juvenile” is defined as one:
        . . . in need of assistance or placement because the juvenile has no parent, guardian, or custodian responsible for the juvenile's care or supervision or whose parent, guardian, or custodian is unable to provide for the care or supervision and lacks an appropriate alternative child care arrangement.

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-101(9) (2005). When reviewing a termination proceeding, “the party petitioning for the termination must show by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence that grounds authorizing the termination of parental rights exist.” In re Young, 346 N.C. 244, 247, 485 S.E.2d 612, 614 (1997) (citing N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7A-289.30(d) and (e)). Findings of fact not challenged on appeal“are deemed supported by competent evidence” and are binding upon this Court. In re Padgett, 156 N.C. App. 644, 648, 577 S.E.2d 337, 340 (2003). Moreover, “[s]o long as the findings of fact support a conclusion based on [the statute], the order terminating parental rights must be affirmed.” In re Oghenekevebe, 123 N.C. App. 434, 436, 473 S.E.2d 393, 395-96 (1996).
    
In the instant case, the trial court made a number of findings of fact in concluding that K.S.E. and B.N.E. were dependent juveniles, including their exposure to domestic violence and inappropriate sexual activity, and Respondent-mother's difficulty in attending to her own mental health needs and corresponding non- attendance at and poor behavior in her group therapy sessions. The trial court further found that Respondent-mother was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder, and that she became “secretive and inconsistent” in her compliance with therapy and medication.
    Additionally, although Respondent-mother has remarried, the trial court found that the marriage has only added to her employment and financial instability, as she has subsequently relocated to another state, incurred criminal charges, and engaged in a relationship with a substance abuser. According to the trial court's findings, Respondent-mother has continued to demonstrate her inability to provide for the care or supervision of her children and lacked an appropriate alternative child care arrangement, particularly in light of the findings concerning her stepfather's conviction for child molestation. Moreover, therecord shows that Respondent-mother even conceded that she cannot meet K.S.E.'s needs due to the severity of his problems and his need for more structured placements.
    In light of the trial court's findings of fact regarding the children's special needs, the failure of Respondent-mother to fully address her mental health issues, and her inability to maintain employment and stable housing, we hold the trial court properly concluded that grounds existed to terminate Respondent-mother's parental rights because she is incapable of providing for the proper care and supervision of the children, such that they were dependent juveniles, with a reasonable probability that such incapability will continue for the foreseeable future. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111(a)(6).
     Because we find that the grounds exist to terminate and only one ground is sufficient, we decline to review Respondent-mother's remaining assignments of error as to the other grounds for termination. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1111(a); Pierce, 67 N.C. App. at 261, 312 S.E.2d at 903. This assignment of error is overruled.
II.
    Respondent-mother next argues that the trial court erred in concluding that it was in the best interest of the children to terminate her parental rights. We disagree.
    “The trial court has discretion, if it finds that at least one of the statutory grounds exists, to terminate parental rights upon a finding that it would be in the child's best interests.” In re Nesbitt, 147 N.C. App. 349, 352, 555 S.E.2d 659, 662 (2001). Todetermine whether terminating the parent's rights is in the best interest of the child, a court considers factors including:
            (1) the age of the child;
            (2) the likelihood of adoption;
            (3) the impact on the accomplishment
              of the permanent plan;
            (4) the bond between the child
              and the parent;
            (5) the relationship between the child
              and a proposed adoptive parent or
              other permanent placement; and
            (6) any other relevant consideration.

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1110(a) (2005). The court should take action “which is in the best interests of the juvenile” when “the interests of the juvenile and those of the juvenile's parents or other persons are in conflict.” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-1100(3) (2005). As a discretionary decision, the trial court's disposition order will not be disturbed unless it could not have been the product of reasoning. In re J.B., 172 N.C. App. 747, 751, 616 S.E.2d 385, 387, aff'd per curiam, 360 N.C. 165, 622 S.E.2d 495 (2005).
    Here, the trial court made a number of findings of fact that relate to the children's best interest, and which are binding on this Court because they were unchallenged by Respondent-mother. Specifically, the trial court referred to the recommendations of John Schenk, the guardian ad litem appointed for the juveniles, as well as those of Mary Mack, the children's therapist.   (See footnote 1)  The trial court noted that Mr. Schenk had initially, and for two years intothe underlying case, advocated for the reunification of the children with Respondent-mother, as well as for in-home therapy to teach her the necessary skills to handle two disturbed children. Nevertheless, Mr. Schenk later concluded that reunification was no longer appropriate for the children because Respondent-mother could not meet their needs due to her lack of progress and lack of attention to her own mental health needs and her own well-being, employment, and marriage. The trial court likewise noted that Ms. Mack's evaluation of the children mentioned their progress in therapy and their protectiveness toward their mother, but that they do not mention her often. Ms. Mack also determined that it is not in the children's best interest to have visitation with Respondent- mother, as she believed such visitation would set the children back in their progress.
    Based on these findings, as well as the trial court's findings regarding the juveniles' special needs, Respondent-mother's lack of stability, and her failure to meet her own needs, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining that termination was in the juveniles' best interest.
    Affirmed.
    Judges McCULLOUGH and CALABRIA concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).


Footnote: 1
     Mr. Schenk served as the children's guardian ad litem from the inception of the case in June 2001. Ms. Mack has been the children's therapist since January 2005, and is the Clinical Director of Therapeutic Services for Access Family Services.

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